‘The Big Tour’ by Robert Upton

By: Bob Spiwak

Surprisingly, this book did not live down to my expectations. There was none of the endorsement hoopla on the cover, it was not a New York Times’ bestseller. The only name on the cover was that of Chi Chi Rodriguez, who was quoted as saying “Excellent.”

No bio of the author, Robert Upton, not picture hanging around the back cover. But, I had bought it used through Powell’s Books based on title and brief cover squib.I decided to give it a skim, at least.

Glad I did as this is fine read. It is fiction with a central theme of a golfer. There are no Scotsmen pontificating about the wee mysteries of The Gowf and other filibusters oozing out of the miasma of metaphysical mysticism.

It is about a very good golfer. He and his childhood sweetie go their separate ways after high school. She becomes a well-paid model, he a poorly paid caddie. He continues to practice and even though he gets no support or encouragement from his father, he perseveres and his talent is extraordinary.

His first venture into playing golf for money is under an assumed name where he is a shill for a professional golf hustler. He starts making money and dreams of The Tour. But he and his partner run afoul of the mob after a Vegas match and bad things happen to Duff, our hero.

At this juncture you be drawing some parallels between Duff and someone on the real tour. I did.

His girlfriend, Gena is rolling in dough and is hooked on various drugs. He ultimately makes it to the Tour after some grave physical and emotional rehabilitation. Gena becomes his sponsor. He does not do much on tour, but the money keeps coming in, and at some point, Duff begins to get the idea that he has become a money laundry with his sponsor money from Gena.

There are a few other unsavory characters that appear in the novel as well as some nice people, like Tiger Woods. It is great bedtime reading.

“The Big Tour” by Robert Upton, Berkley Books, 2002, 314 pages, ISBN 0-425-18756-6

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he’s back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob’s most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.